How to Stream on Twitch: The 2021 Beginners Guide

This is a comprehensive guide on how to start streaming on Twitch for beginners.

It can be a bit daunting to get started with streaming at first. This guide was designed to hold your hand and guide you through the process. 🤝

It contains everything to get you started from start to finish!

☕️ So make yourself a cup of coffee and let’s get started!

👩‍💻 Create a Twitch Account

Already have a Twitch Account? [SKIP HERE]

Before you can start streaming on Twitch, you’ll need to have an account first.

Creating a Twitch account is free and only takes a minute to set up.

To create your account, navigate to Twitch.tv and click on the purple ‘Sign Up’ button in the top right corner of the navigation panel.

You can also follow these steps on a mobile device by downloading the Twitch app.

In the next prompt, Twitch will request some basic information from you.

Once filled in, hit ‘Sign Up’ to be taken to your Twitch dashboard.

Congrats! Your Twitch account is ready to go.

💭 How to pick a Twitch username

Upon registering your account, Twitch will immediately request a username from you.

Don’t worry though, you won’t be stuck with this name as Twitch allows streamers to change their username once every 60 days!

👉 Continue reading on how to pick a Twitch username.

⚠️ You must enable Two Factor Authorization

An update now requires Twitch streamers to enable 2FA before they can start streaming.

You can install 2FA directly from your Twitch dashboard.

Navigate to Settings > Security to set up 2FA.


⚙️ Pick your Streaming Software

Already have streaming software? [SKIP HERE]

As a Twitch streamer, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to streaming software.

  • Streamlabs OBS — The top choice for beginner streamers. Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) is super easy to set up, has built-in alerts and comes in a visually pleasing package. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • OBS Studio — OBS Studio is the top choice among experienced Twitch streamers. OBS Studio comes with more versatility and customization options than SLOBS in a lightweight package. OBS Studio is more technical in use. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • Twitch Studio — Twitch Studio is Twitch’s very own broadcasting software. It’s lacking some features compared to the other two choices on this list but it might be useful in the future. It’s currently in beta Available for both Windows and Mac.

Most Twitch streamers use either Streamlabs OBS or OBS Studio to get the job done.

If you’re wondering which platform best fits your needs, you can check out our Streamlabs OBS vs OBS Studio comparison article.

⚠️ Spoiler: Streamlabs OBS is more beginner-friendly and our top pick.


🕹 Streaming Equipment

Already have streaming equipment? [SKIP HERE]

Streaming on Twitch is not possible without the necessary equipment.

Let’s go over the essentials, feel free to skip this part.

🕹 PC Setup

In order to stream on Twitch, you’ll need a PC that can handle playing video games and streaming at the same time.

Ideally, a streaming PC has at least 16GB of ram.

You’re also going to need a capable GPU and CPU.

Under $1,200
Best pick for new streamers: Skytech Archangel
  • Ryzen 5 3600
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • GTX 1660 SUPER
  • 500GB SSD

👉 Or check out our Budget Streaming PC Guide to build your own

🕹 Webcam

A webcam isn’t necessary to start streaming on Twitch but it is going to help you a lot in terms of growth.

After all, viewers want to see the face behind the voice!

Under $50
Budget pick for streamers: Logitech C920
  • 1080p
  • 30fps
  • Go-to beginners’ pick for most streamers
FREE/$10
🤯 PRO TIP: Use your phone!

You can turn your phone into a webcam using your WIFI connection for a budget solution!

You can install Droidcam (Android) or EpocCam (Apple) to get the job done.

👉 Check out our Webcam Buying Guide

🕹 Microphone

Good sound quality is SO important so you need to have a decent external microphone.

In 2021, viewers really do not tolerate poor audio quality so you really won’t be able to keep viewers in your stream if your microphone sucks.

If you have a headset microphone, that’s good to start out but you’ll benefit from switching over to an external microphone as soon as possible.

Under $50
Budget pick for streamers: Razer Seiren Mini
  • Ideal for new streamer
  • Supercardiod Pollar Pattern
  • Can be mounted to a boom stand

👉 Check out our Budget Microphone Buying Guide.

🕹 Lighting

I consider good lighting to be more important than a good webcam.

You can point a $1000 DSLR camera at your face, if you don’t have proper lighting, it will be a terrible shot.

A $30 lighting setup in combination with a budget webcam will hold much better results.

Under $50
Budget pick for streamers: Neewer Key Lights
  • Set of 2 LED lights
  • 5600K
  • USB poweered
  • Stands included

👉 Check out our Stream Lighting Guide.


🤔 Pick a Streaming Niche

Already have a niche? [SKIP HERE]

It’s difficult to stand out on Twitch.

After all, this behemoth streaming platform has nearly 9 million monthly streamers going live according to Twitch Tracker.

One way you can stand out from the crowd is by picking a decent niche with a smaller community that you can breach.

Contrary to popular belief, the best niches are not the most popular games on Twitch.

For example, Fortnite is a terrible niche to start in.

Because you are competing with streamers such as Bugha and Clix who have huge fanbases.

Not to mention the sheer amount of streamers that are trying to break through in this game.

It’s going to require a lot of luck to gain any kind of notoriety streaming Fortnite on Twitch.

Instead, you should focus on smaller games with small communities.

ludwig net worth

Ludwig is a great example of this process.

Today, Ludwig is a huge streamer that makes up the absolute top of Twitch but just a few years ago, at the start of 2018, he was streaming to a very humble audience of 50 average viewers.

This audience did not come out of nowhere, prior to his start as a streamer Ludwig had rooted himself into the Smash Bros Melee community and that same community followed him to Twitch.

This allowed Ludwig to get a smooth start on Twitch and go full-time just one year later.

If you want to emulate such a smooth start, you’ll benefit from picking a good niche with a small community for your start on Twitch.

👉 Check out our guide on how to pick a niche on Twitch.


⚙️ Set up your Streamlabs OBS

Navigate to Streamlabs.com and click on the big download button.

streamlabs is the best OBS software for beginner twitch streamers

Once installed, use your Twitch account details that you created earlier to log in.

you can sign up to streamlabs obs using your twitch credentials

Your Twitch account will automatically be linked to Streamlabs OBS.

The next couple of prompts will request you to select your webcam and microphone.

You’ll even be asked to select a free theme!

streamlabs obs comes with free themes

Finally, you’ll be taken to the Streamlabs dashboard where you can customize your stream setup.

the streamlabs dashboard is very beginner-friendly and easy to navigate

Streamlabs OBS contains 3 important features which can be found at the bottom of the dashboard:

👉 Scenes

inside the scenes section of streamlabs obs you can set up multiple scenes for different purposes

Scenes are located at the bottom left of your OBS dashboard.

Here you can add multiple scenes for different purposes.

For example, you can have a separate scene set up for when you’re chatting with your viewers and another scene for when you’re playing video games.

👉 Sources

sources can be used to add webcam, game capture and more

Sources make up everything that shows up on stream.

Here you can add overlays, background elements, your webcam, and more.

Sources work in a hierarchical fashion meaning that whatever is up top, will be in the foreground.

👉 Mixer

mixer is used to adjust your stream audio

The mixer section allows you to control the volume levels of your stream.

This is where you’ll go if your chat complains that your game is too loud, your voice is too quiet, etc.

➕ Adding Sources to Streamlabs OBS

🎥 How to add your webcam

You can add your webcam by adding a new source.

how to add a webcam to streamlabs obs

Click on the + sign in the sources section of SLOBS and select ‘Video Capture Device’.

Then, give it a name (e.g. facecam).

In the next window, select your webcam and click on done.

Your webcam will then be added to your stream and you can drag and drop it wherever you want.

⚠️ How to add Alerts to Twitch

Under sources, add a new source ‘AlertBox’.

how to add an alert to streamlabs obs

Then, select the actions that you want to set up an alert for (e.g. donations).

how to add a donation alert to streamlabs obs as a beginner twitch streamer

👉 We have an in-depth guide on how to set up stream alerts on Twitch. This guide also covers OBS Studio and Streamelements as well.


🖥 Set up your Stream Quality settings

👉 How to change your video settings

Navigate to Settings > Video inside your OBS software.

how to change your video settings on twitch

Your Output Resolution should be set to 1280×720 for 720p. or 1280×1080 for 1080p.

You should keep your FPS at 30.

👉 How to change your bitrate

Navigate to Settings > Output in your OBS Software.

how to change your bitrate on twitch

Switch Output Mode to Advanced.

Set a bitrate of 2500 or more depending on your video settings and your upload speed.

⚠️ Your video quality and bitrate will depend on your upload speed

When live streaming, you are sending data from your computer to Twitch.

You can define the quality of your stream by adjusting the bitrate and video settings inside your OBS software.

However, the quality you choose will depend on your internet connection, specifically your upload speed.

You can use speedtest.net to check your upload speed.

your upload speed is important when choosing your bitrate settings for twitch streaming

You’ll need an upload speed of 3 Mbps minimum to comfortably stream on Twitch, ideally higher.

👉 Learn more about the required upload speed for Twitch streaming


📝 Plan out your Stream

Going live for the first time is no small feat.

You might be worried that you’ll run out of things to say or do.

One way to prevent this is to plan out your first stream.

I actually recommend this not just to beginners but to every level of Twitch streamer.

Very few big Twitch streamers actually go online completely blind. They always have some sort of outline of what they are going to do.

So if professionals who stream full-time have to plan out their streams, don’t you think you should be doing the same thing?


🤞 Go Live for the First Time!

To go live on Twitch, click on the green ‘go live’ button at the bottom right of your Streamlabs OBS dashboard.

how to go live on twitch for the first time

In the following window, you’ll be able to pick a stream title, select a game category and add some useful tags.

Hit ‘Confirm and Go Live’ to go live for the very first time! 🤞


🚀 Drive Traffic to your Twitch Stream

Twitch doesn’t have a great built-in discovery system.

Twitch ranks live streams chronologically meaning that the top streamers come first and the new streamers are buried at the bottom of the page where no one ever goes.

So don’t expect viewers to come in naturally on Twitch, you’ll have to send them to your stream yourself.

Instead, you can use other social media platforms to drive traffic to your Twitch channel.

For example, before you go live, you can post to your story on Instagram and Facebook.

You can also tweet out your live stream.

Additionally, you should also create content for your Twitch stream and share it on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and so forth.

👉 Check out our guide on how to grow your Twitch stream.


💰 Setup Donations for your Twitch Stream

Many Twitch streamers set up donations as soon as they start streaming on Twitch.

In fact, donations are the main way to make money on Twitch for smaller streamers.

While you may not be able to accept bit donations before you become a Twitch Affiliate, you will be able to set up an external tip jar.

Both Streamlabs and Streamelements offer their own version of a free tip jar.

streamlabs has an external tip jar for Twitch streamers

Streamlabs

💳 Paypal, Debit/Credit Card, Unitpay, Skrill & Coinbase

❌ Doesn’t take a cut from earnings

💬 Viewer can add a message

stream elements has an external tip jar for Twitch streamers

Streamelements

💳 Paypal, Debit/Credit Card
/

❌ Doesn’t take a cut from earnings

💬 Viewer can add a message

Obviously, you’re best off choosing the same platform you use for your alerts.

👉 Follow our Donation Guide to learn everything about how to set up donations.


🎬 Twitch Beginner Tips

🎬 Don’t expect viewers on your first stream

You won’t get many (or even any) viewers on your first couple of streams and that’s completely fine!

Don’t let this discourage you and learn these first few streams to learn the ropes.

🎬 Play with friends to avoid silences

The bottom of Twitch is filled with beginner streamers that NEVER talk on stream.

These streamers are NOT entertaining and the viewers will leave as quickly as they came.

I know, talking is difficult. Especially when you feel like no one is listening.

A great way to prevent awkward silences on stream is to play games with friends.

This way, your viewers can enjoy the banter between you and your buddies!

🎬 Stick to a stream schedule

Streaming is one of those things you can do one day and forget about the next day.

To keep yourself accountable and work towards a long-term goal of becoming a streamer, you should create a stream schedule and stick to it.

🎬 Stay Persistent

Success on Twitch is not going to happen overnight. You’re most likely going to be streaming to single-digit viewers for a while.

This is completely normal. Don’t let it discourage you from staying persistent!

🎬 Don’t play copyrighted music

A little background music can add a lot of value to a Twitch stream but it must be done correctly and legally.

You may not know this but you’re not allowed to play copyrighted music on Twitch (or anywhere online really…)

For example, playing Ariana Grande on stream could get you a DMCA strike and multiple strikes can get your account terminated permanently.

In order to avoid DMCA strikes, you should only play DMCA-Free music on stream.

👉🎶 Here’s a list of DMCA-Free music for Twitch.

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